A Luxurious Movie Theater Experience

I had heard about upscale, fancy movie theaters before. I found the concept super cool but knew that no such theaters existed within my vicinity. With my recent trip to Charlotte, the opportunity opened up for me to finally try one out. Yesterday, my low-class butt got to sit in luxury as I enjoyed an amazing movie experience.

Sidney and I wanted to go to a movie before we left Charlotte. Wanting to get on the road at a decent hour we decided to see “The Wedding Ringer” at 11 a.m. We would be attending the Studio Movie Grill in the Epicentre. The friends we met at the bowling alley the night before told us that this certain movie house was an upscale theater but we didn’t really know any other specifics.

The entrance to Studio Movie Grill in the Epicentre in Charlotte.

The entrance to Studio Movie Grill in the Epicentre in Charlotte.

I guess the first specific I was most curious about was the price. If this theater was so exuberant, it must have an exuberant admission price, right? Wrong. We walked to the box office and went up to a self-serve kiosk where we purchased tickets for $6 each! Going to a movie so early on a Sunday does cut the cost down but this price was cheaper than majority of matinee tickets at regular theaters. After choosing our movie and show time, we then got to choose our seats. A seating map came up on the screen that let us choose where we wanted to sit. We just used our finger to touch the seats we wanted and the kiosk spit out our tickets.

Our tickets for "The Wedding Ringer" at Movie Studio Grill.

Our tickets for “The Wedding Ringer” at Movie Studio Grill.

We went up the escalator to the theater area. Only it wasn’t just the theater area. To our right was a full service, sleek bar. It looked like it was transported right out of a high end Vegas casino. Behind us was a billiards hall. To our left was the entrance to the theaters. We gave our tickets to the employee who asked us if we wanted menus. Yes, please!

The auditorium we were in had a large upper section and a smaller lower section. The upper section was split into three equal sections with generous aisles running up and down. The sections were filled with large, comfortable seats grouped in twos. They were more couches than theater chairs. The lower section had seats that were more individual-like. Sidney and I went to our assigned upper section seats. Each seat had a snazzy table tray and a button to press for service.

The button for us to push for service.

The button for us to push for service.

Because we were holding menus, we didn’t need to press any buttons. A host came to us immediately and introduced herself and said she would take care of us. She then left us to look over the menu. Expansive and appealing, the menu contained just about everything you could want from appetizers to entrees to cocktails to desserts. We ordered popcorn, a milkshake, and soda.

The screen was huge, the auditorium was immaculate, and the sound was the best I have heard at a theater in a long time. Not too many other people took up the offer to watch Kevin Hart for $6 as I would guess that only eight other people were in the theater with us. We reclined in the comfy seats and enjoyed ourselves.

Our order came. The soda was in a tumbler glass and the popcorn was served in a bowl with sheet paper. Don’t think this was your buttery, salty, artery-clogging (just how I like it) popcorn. It was much more on the lighter side, definitely not yellow in color. But it was really good! And the milkshake tasted great as our host made sure to bring us two straws and two spoons.

With about 20 minutes to go in the movie, our tab was brought to us. Knowing this was the cue that the movie would be ending soon, I sat back and savored the remaining time I had in the theater. I laughed out loud as the film reached its conclusion, knowing that the theater had something to do with my good spirits considering I had never found Kevin Hart funny before.

I would definitely recommend attending a movie at one of these service-based, experience-driven movie theaters. I really enjoyed myself and was able to relax much more than at a normal theater. Even with a long drive ahead of us and the need to get back to Myrtle Beach, we were able to let it all go while in Studio Movie Grill. In the future, it would be fun to go on a Friday night and sip a couple cocktails and unwind after the work week. You can bet that this wasn’t my last experience at a movie theater like this. Don’t Blink.

Sid’s Birthday Weekend in Charlotte

It didn’t even last 24 hours. To be exact, from the time we entered the parking garage at the Charlotte Epicentre to the time we exited it, we had clocked 23 hours and 10 minutes. Short but sweet for sure.

In honor of Sidney’s birthday this Wednesday, her and I took a brief weekend trip to Charlotte to spend a little time away from Myrtle Beach and to mark her milestone. We stayed at the Epicentre, a buzzing area with lots of fun things for people our age to do. This trip marked the first time I had ever spent actual time in the Queen City.

The Epicentre has one hotel in it, the Aloft Charlotte Uptown. The hotel is situated on top of the Epicentre, making you really feel like you are right in the middle of everything. A growing and modern chain, Aloft properties shy away from the traditional hotel lobby/hotel room look and go for something much more contemporary and social. The rooms are small with the bathroom and shower behind the bed but the fixtures/appliances, such as the shower and television, are top notch. We were on the tenth floor and had a view of Time Warner Cable Arena. The staff treated us really well and we killed some time today sitting on the snazzy lobby couches playing Connect Four.

This was our view from our hotel room. You can see some of the Epicentre and Time Warner Arena.

This was our view from our hotel room. You can see some of the Epicentre and Time Warner Arena.

After we checked in at around 2 p.m., we went out and walked around the Epicentre. An outdoor closed in entertainment area three stories high, the Epicentre is just one of those places that immediately makes you say, “Yeah, this is definitely the place to hang out.” We walked into a vibrantly colored establishment called the Tin Roof and sat down at the bar. While enjoying chips and queso and a couple rounds of drinks, we talked to the bartender and another employee about the area and learned a lot.

A look at a portion of the Epicentre.

A look at a portion of the Epicentre.

We left Tin Roof and went to the bowling alley in Epicentre, StrikeCity. Warning: This is not your typical bowling alley. StrikeCity is bowling meets clubbing meets sports bar. We signed up for a lane and then went to the giant bar situated behind the bowling action as we had about a 30 minute wait. Sitting at the bar watching people bowl gave me the perfect opportunity to scope out the area. Above the lanes were giant television screens tuned into ESPN. The light show was very sleek, not by any means a cheesy cosmic bowling type production. They only had 12 lanes and they were stacked close together. Our lane opened up and our server (called a “host”) immediately came over and introduced herself.

We had a blast bowling! I honestly had a lot more fun than I usually do. We made fast friends with the couple sharing our bowling ball return rack with us, Eric and Alia. StrikeCity sells these giant beer towers meant to share. We each went in half and purchased one to split between the four of us. When our bowling ended, the tower didn’t. We took the remainder of it to the bar and started to talk. It was there that we decided we wanted to go to the Charlotte Hornets-New York Knicks game that was about to tip off in about an hour.

Sidney bowling while Alia is laughing about something.

Sidney bowling while Alia is laughing about something.

We hustled the short distance to Time Warner Cable Arena that was right next to the Epicentre. We split up to purchase tickets from a scalper. After some dead ends, Eric called me and said he found someone with four tickets. Sidney and I met back up with him and Alia and I purchased two seats for $80. Excited, the four of us walked inside the arena.

Eric, Alia, Sidney, and I  (obviously excited) in Time Warner Arena going to our seats.

Eric, Alia, Sidney, and I (obviously excited) in Time Warner Arena going to our seats.

If I had to do Saturday night over again, I think I would have passed on the game. The star players for both teams, Kemba Walker and Carmelo Anthony, both didn’t play. The tickets the scalper sold us weren’t where he said they would be and we were nosebleed behind one of the baskets. The play itself was horrid. Reaction from both teams after the game centered on how sloppy the contest was. But on the bright side, Time Warner Arena is really nice and we did get Kemba Walker bobbleheads. It wasn’t enough to make us stay though…we left at halftime.

Some images from the game. It was cool to see an NBA game in Charlotte but probably wouldn't do it again.

Some images from the game. It was cool to see an NBA game in Charlotte but probably wouldn’t do it again.

This morning, Sidney and I enjoyed a bagel at Bruegger’s. We spent time at the pool and time in the hotel lobby. After we checked out of Aloft, we went to Studio Movie Grill and watched the 11 a.m. showing of “The Wedding Ringer.” Our theater experience was terrific, so unique and good in fact that I will devote an entire blog post to it tomorrow. The movie itself wasn’t bad either. After lunch at Five Guys, we headed back to Myrtle Beach.

Some low key hotel fun this morning.

Some low key hotel fun this morning.

I told Sidney a couple times that I would definitely go back to the Epicentre. The place is just so contemporary and fun. Minus the lights and gambling, the Epicentre had a little bit of a Vegas feel to it for me. I enjoyed my time in Charlotte and was happy to help ring in Sidney’s birthday week. Don’t Blink.